Friday, 27 February 2015

Their Them: A Question of Usage

I have a number of friends (there I go, boasting again!) who have an objection to the use of 'their' or 'them' when what is meant is 'his or hers' or 'him or her'.

Sometimes when a person (you know who you are - and no you are not a lawyer) speaks loudly (I was going to say shouts but that's going a bit far) at the television when a well educated person (frequently newsreaders) transgresses I try and make the point that it is invariably when the gender of the person is not known (or for legal reasons cannot be given) and in the middle of every newscast or sentence where that happens if the person was obliged to use the correct form then it would become cumbersome and intensely irritating for most of us.

I don't seem to be winning the argument. Do I have any support out there?

Wednesday, 25 February 2015


A friend mentioned yesterday that on each of the recent posts when I had mentioned a place (Shrewsbury and Christchurch) she had received a postcard (via Postcrossing) which had come from each of those places. So today I thought I'd post some photos of a trip I made to California in 2004.

So far as I can recall it's the only holiday on which I have kept a journal each day of what we did. That's been very useful 11 years later in identifying these photos and also in seeing what I thought of the various places we went.

We rode the footplate of the cable car (tram) from Fisherman's Wharfe (that's not me!).
One of the famous Pacific Coast sunsets (around Cambria or Saint Simeon) 
Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park - 4000' above the valley floor
View from Moro Rock
View from Moro Rock 

Chandelier Tree Drive Thru Park
The Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco - it really is one of the sights everyone should experience
Steve hugging a Giant Redwood Tree
The scale of the waterfalls in the Yosemite National Park cannot be appreciated without actually being there
Yosemite again
How small and insignificant is man!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

An Earthquake, a Birthday and Memories

Not long after 23:51 UTC (12:51 pm on February 22 New Zealand time) four years ago today I was in The Cottage in New Zealand when I received a text from a friend who was visiting Christchurch.  During the next few hours and for some time after almost everyone with the slightest connection to Christchurch and most people in New Zealand together with the World's press were focussed on the City. I can think of few things that have not affected me personally and directly that had and have continued to have a greater impact on my emotions. At the time I wrote the following post for my New Zealand blog.

Just after 1400 hrs today I received a text from a friend who is visiting Christchurch to say that there had been another large earthquake in the City.   It immediately became obvious that the quake was significantly more serious than the larger quake last September which was further away from Christchurch, much deeper and, most importantly, instead of being in the middle of the night when CBD (Central Business District = City Centre) was empty it happened just before 1pm when the buildings and streets were full.  Communication with the City had been temporarily cut off when power and telecommunications lines were disrupted or destroyed.  It took a short while for the television and radio networks (which were themselves damaged) to get up and running with their independent satellite equipment.

Reference Number3468575[View event in Google Maps]
Universal TimeFebruary 21 2011 at 23:51
NZ Daylight TimeTuesday, February 22 2011 at 12:51 pm
Latitude, Longitude43.60°S, 172.71°E
Focal Depth5 km
Richter magnitude6.3
  • Within 5 km of Lyttelton
  • Within 5 km of Diamond Harbour
  • 10 km south-east of Christchurch

Living in New Zealand one is constantly aware of earthquakes which, generally speaking, do little serious damage.   If one lives in Napier the effect of the 1931 earthquake which destroyed the City with huge loss of life and very significant geological effect in the area one is even more aware of what can happen.

However I cannot explain the feelings of anxiety knowing that someone you know and care about is involved even when you know that they survived the initial quake unscathed.  I cannot even begin to imagine how people with relatives and friends who are missing are feeling at this time.  At the time I'm writing this 65 have been confirmed dead but it is expected that that number will rise.

A State of Emergency has been declared.

The television and radio have been on the air with updating news since the quake.  The friend who texted had no idea of the seriousness at the time because they had no power and therefore no TV or radio.   See TV NZ.  

One of the reasons I'll never forget the date is that it was that friend's Birthday. 

Next year it is my intention to return to New Zealand and my spiritual second home.  Next year it will be 5 years since that particular earthquake. Next year I hope to return to Christchurch and see how much has happened since the 'quake and implant new memories of the City in my mind.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thankful Thursday

What a joy it was to wake up this morning.

What a joy it was to wake up this morning and discover that I still had a broadband connection.

What a joy it was to wake up this morning and discover that I still had a broadband connection and had a cellphone connection.

Such little things but such important things - to me. It has been so irritating without them.

Then I listened to the news: the plight of those in eastern Ukraine and so on.

And my important things become so insignificant.

I had lunch with Gaz - home yesterday for a couple of months - and went out to see how his house was coming along.

And those things so important and so terrible in the rest of the world selfishly meant nothing to me for the afternoon: my family is safe.

And I am thankful.